The Pacers let an 18-point lead melt away in Thursday’s game in Indianapolis and had to come back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to record a third-straight win.
Two-time MVP Antetokounmpo, despite his hugely impressive points haul, committed two costly turnovers as the Bucks looked to regain the lead late in the game, the second when the ball was knocked away by Mathurin.
“We had to deal with a player that was extraordinarily hot and on a roll and very, very difficult to deal with,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters postgame. “In the last three minutes … our guys did an amazing job at executing the double teams and the swarming.”
The Pacers got off to a fast start and led by 14 points by the end of the first quarter.
The Bucks, without Damian Lillard due to a calf injury, then rallied through the brilliance of Antetokounmpo, who scored 26 points in the first half and added another 20 in the third period alone.
But Milwaukee had to go without head coach Adrian Griffin for the latter stages of the game after he was ejected in the third for arguing a non-call on Antetokounmpo, later saying that he “thought Giannis was getting hit quite a bit.”
Griffin told reporters: “I voiced my opinion. Next time, I’ll do it in a little bit more [of a] delicate way. But it was a physical game and give them credit, they jumped on us early and they were able to pull out the win.”
The Bucks, now 5-3 on the season, will face the Orlando Magic on Saturday, the next instalment of what is turning into an eventful week for the ‘Greek Freak.’
“I felt strong, I felt like I could attack angles like I have been in the past,” Antetokounmpo told reporters after Thursday’s game.
“I’ve been feeling like this the last three games, that means I’m kind of getting my rhythm back. I’m happy about that … Hopefully, we can go to Orlando and get a win.”
The Pacers, meanwhile, are hitting the road to play the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.
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